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“Innocent Passage”

[ 24 ] May 6, 2016 |
USS Curtis Wilbur (DDG-54)

“USS Curtis Wilbur DDG-54 1999” by U.S. Navy, Chief Photographer’s Mate Mahlon K. Miller. Licensed under Public Domain via Commons.


A couple of weeks ago I wrote a short piece for the Diplomat on the dustup between PACOM and the Obama administration:

Over the past week, the apparent conflict between PACOM and the Obama administration has generated a pool of digital ink big enough to build a Chinese island in. The apparent disinterest of the Obama administration in entertaining the more aggressive navigation and flight operations proposed by PACOM commander Admiral Harry B. Harris has produced a great deal of criticism, even as both sides sought to quiet the conflict. It’s worthwhile at this point to stop and think through the practical limits on what the United States can do.



[ 24 ] May 6, 2016 |
Chodowiecki Basedow Tafel 21 c Z.jpg

LGM Typesetters Hard at Work…

For those of you who still use RSS (a dying breed, you’d think, but then I get e-mails) one of our two feeds has disabled because of the bankruptcy of the company we used to sell RSS ads to. Please subscribe to this feed (  Let me know in comments if you have any problems. FWIW, I still use RSS extensively (Feedly), and share a lot of things directly to twitter from my feed.

India’s Nuclear Decision

[ 4 ] May 5, 2016 |
Agni-II missile (Republic Day Parade 2004).jpeg

“Agni-II missile (Republic Day Parade 2004)” by Antônio Milena. Licensed under CC BY 3.0 br via Commons.


My latest at the Diplomat took a look at the most recent research on why India developed nuclear weapons:

The question of weapons and prestige has bedeviled political scientists and the answer seems to be: “Both, but more of one or the other under particular circumstances.” Recent work by Jayita Sarkar (reviewed by Sumit Ganguly) helps contribute to this question, at least in the context of India’s pursuit of nuclear weapons. Sarkar argues that recent documentary evidence supports a security-oriented explanation for the Indian nuclear weapons program. Indian nuclear insecurity, and in particular, the detonation of a Chinese hydrogen device in 1967, convinced India that it could not defend against the PLA without the assistance of nuclear weapons. India’s commitment to non-alignment made the country particularly vulnerable, as it could not depend on either a Soviet or a U.S. nuclear guarantee.

“At the risk of eventually looking deeply ridiculous…”

[ 75 ] May 3, 2016 |

Fortunately, I only put my money where my blog was in one case; I’ll pay that out on Friday.

Goddamnit, Ted, you disappoint me.


And Yet Khanna Persists…

[ 19 ] May 3, 2016 |

empty-suit1For some obscure reason, Parag Khanna persists not only in existing, but also in writing books that find major publishers.  My review of Second World can be found here. The intrepid Dan Drezner was given the unenviable task of reviewing Connectography (yes, that is its actual name); the results are impressive. Some of the choicest bits:

Parag Khanna may well be the most connected man alive. “Connectography” represents Khanna’s latest effort to arbitrage his personal networking skills into a theory of geopolitics…

The fluff is voluminous. Khanna and his editors clearly believe that his prose style is a winning one, but for this reader it was like struggling through the transcription of a TED talk on a recursive loop…

I wish that Khanna wee right about the power of connectivity. The world would be a better place. I fear, however, that he does not know what he is talking about.

And via Drezner, this Evgeny Morozov review of one of Khanna’s earlier efforts leaves a lot of blood and intestine on the floor.


[ 13 ] May 2, 2016 |
A large submarine travelling on the surface of the ocean.

“HMAS Rankin 2007” by U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman James R. Evans – Licensed under Public Domain via Commons.

Some Monday links for your reading pleasure…

Ohio Remembers…

[ 74 ] April 30, 2016 |

Yesterday I visited the Queen City Club in Cincinnati for the opening of an honorary regional Estonian consulate. On the one end of the hall:

File Apr 30, 7 55 08 AM

“We’re going to good cop-bad cop this. I’m not the good cop.”

And on the other end:

File Apr 30, 7 55 27 AM

“I’m not the good cop, either.”


Boehner on Cruz

[ 84 ] April 28, 2016 |


Why can’t that nice young Ted Cruz unite the GOP? 

Much of the discussion – and laughs – focused on Boehner’s views on the current presidential candidates. Segueing into the topic, Kennedy asked Boehner to be frank given that the event was not being broadcasted, and the former Speaker responded in kind. When specifically asked his opinions on Ted Cruz, Boehner made a face, drawing laughter from the crowd.

“Lucifer in the flesh,” the former speaker said. “I have Democrat friends and Republican friends. I get along with almost everyone, but I have never worked with a more miserable son of a bitch in my life.”

In other news, watch Dylan Matthews cut pieces off of Jim Vanderhei. Slowly.

Raptor Raptor!

[ 28 ] April 27, 2016 |
F-22 AIM-120.jpg

“F-22 AIM-120” by USAF – Licensed under Public Domain via Commons.

Some further thoughts on a Raptor Restart:

Last week, the U.S. House of Representatives commissioned a study on resuming production of the Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor. The F-22 completed its production run in 2011, after a controversial decision by Secretary of Defense Robert Gates to curtail the fighter in favor of simpler, less expensive projects.

As numerous analysts have pointed out, the costs of resuming the F-22 production line would be staggering. Although Lockheed Martin tried to retain all of the tooling and equipment necessary to restart the line, much of the human capital associated with assembly has been lost.  Moreover, engineers have struggled to find the appropriate equipment in storage, even for the repair and maintenance of the existing fleet.

The IP Expansion

[ 11 ] April 22, 2016 |
B-2 radar reflection.jpg

By Nova13 – Based on: File:An F-18 Hornet, B-2 Spiri, and two F-16 Fighting Falcons.jpg, Public Domain.


I have an article up at World Politics Review on US diplomatic strategy for intellectual property protection:

Intellectual property: It sounds boring, but its protection has become one of the cornerstones of U.S. economic policy. And now, it may have an impact on how the Pentagon thinks about the future of technology.

In recent years, the big push for international intellectual property protection came about through the concerted action of a group of powerful, well-connected American corporations. These corporations had determined that they could make a great deal of money—or at least stop the loss of a great deal of money—by putting crucial intellectual property protections into international law. Washington has embraced this idea, making intellectual property a central part of every major trade agreement of the past decade.

Bowling Green

[ 9 ] April 22, 2016 |

I’ll be in Bowling Green tomorrow morning for the Southern Kentucky Book Fest. Anyone in or near town is strongly encouraged to swing by; the lineup is always interesting, and I’ll be on an 11am panel titled “History: Battles and Bravery.” It is my understanding that battles and battleships are the only things worthy of historical study, a position that I will attempt to convey with utmost conviction.

The Eastern Eastern Front

[ 22 ] April 20, 2016 |
Soviet aircraft carrier Novorossiysk.jpg

Soviet aircraft carrier Novorossiysk. Public Domain.

My latest at the National Interest examines some of the lit on what World War III might have looked like in the Pacific:

Scholars have devoted far less attention to the planning of World War III in East Asia than to the European theater. The two classic novels of the Third World War (Tom Clancy’s Red Storm Rising and John Hackett’s The Third World War) rarely touched on developments in Asia. However, in the 1970s and 1980s, the Naval War College traced the potential course of war in East Asia as part of a series of global war games. These games lend a great deal of insight into the key actors in the conflict, and how the decisive battles of a Second Pacific War might have played out.


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